Hello SEOs! In this post I will be taking a look at the website loading times for my blog DebbySEO, and compare this to the loading speed of the WordPress.com homepage. I have done similar tests with self hosted blogs before, and this always yielded good results in that they were pretty fast. But since DebbySEO is part of the free WordPress hosting platform I will do a variety of SiteSpeed benchmarks and share my findings with you as I find them rather intriguing.
I have tested the loading speed of my blog with Woorank’s tool before and was under the impression that the loading speed of my blog was not all that bad. Boy, was I wrong.
As you can see above my blog is in the red area, and we know that Google takes SiteSpeed into consideration for it’s search engine rankings.
In the graph above you see that all measures are quiet below average. The worse part is that since I’m using the free WordPress plan, there’s little I can do to speed up my blog.
Minimizing the image size and choosing a fast loading template, as well as not loading all my posts on the index page is something everyone should do, however, I already did this and my site is still slow.
The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) which measures the loading performance should load within 2.5 secs (less than half of what it is right now), and the interactivity and visual stability score all need improvement.
So is it worth it at all to upgrade to a paid subscription in order to get better search engine rankings? And will my blog be loading faster if I do?
To answer these questions we will have to dig deeper, obviously upgrading to a paid WordPress subscription will remove the ads from your site (which is good for SEO), but what does this mean?
In order to further investigate I ran a speed test for a few domains owned by people who have a personal or premium WordPress subscription, and compared them with the speed of my own free blog.
Do you notice how my blog has skyrocketed?! What did I do? Absolutely nothing, loading times appear to have different values at different times of the day. The other WordPress blogs however did not score outside of the red area.
While template selection and also the size of images will affect how fast your page loads, it is obvious that most WordPress sites that are hosted on WordPress do not load very fast.
So why does my blog have a decent loading time? Easy, I resize all of my images and the index page is therefore only 1MB big. The average index page is around 3.5MB big (and some considerably larger).
It appears that WordPress reserves most of its resources for their own homepage and not for the their customers blogs.
OK so I did not pass the core web vitals assessment, but my site does have a great loading time close to the loading time of the WordPress homepage itself. So why the low score before? I think we have to use a different tool for a better assessment. Shame on you Google!
GTmetrix Website Speed and Performance
I’m a little turned off by Google’s SiteSpeed tool because it didn’t provide the accuracy I was hoping for. So let’s try GTmetrix and see if we can get any wiser.
GTmetrix allows you to easily compare your results with other websites and additionally it will reveal why your website is slow and how to optimize it.
Now the results returned by GTmetrix are in direct contrast with the 93/100 Google score above which I pulled a moment ago from the Google PageSpeed Site. For GTmetrix the average PageSpeed score is 75%, so in other words it suggests that my blog is on average twice as slow as other sites.
Let’s run a comparison with WordPress.com
Above you can see that while the WordPress homepage is almost 10 times as big as the DebbySEO homepage, it scores above average for the PageSpeed- and Yslow Grade.
If WordPress would size down their homepage to half its size, it would win with an almost perfect score in all areas, and still be five times as big as the DebbySEO blog.
From all of this we can derive that WordPress uses different standards and assigns more resources to their own homepage, than they do to their customers websites, which are consequently slower.
Let’s do the ultimate test and compare the previous results to the websites we used for the Google PageSpeed test.
After seeing the scores above I don’t feel that bad anymore. It is obvious that WordPress is using double standards when it comes to speed for its users, and speed for their own blog.
While WordPress hosting offers many benefits (such as no need for advanced technical knowledge), it is not the fastest solution for your blog. If you wish to have a blazing fast blog a dedicated hosting solution is the way to go.
Will I be upgrading my WordPress subscription? Maybe in the future. I am really curious to see how long it will take before my posts properly index in Google, and whether or not I can get the same amount of traffic as on my other websites.
While Google already indexed my blog for its main keywords “affordable seo san francisco” I would like to see how my articles rank and this will take more time as I need more incoming links.
A dedicated server is faster than virtual hosting and can be leased for about $50/mo. This is an appropriate solution if your blog takes up a lot of resources. If your visitors make extensive use of the database or if you are hosting huge files this solution will fit your needs.
It noteworthy that dedicated servers require a system administrator, and while you can lease managed servers, some basic knowledge and technical skills will be required.
But even if you choose a virtual- or a dedicated hosting solution, whether or not you will be able to increase your website loading speed will for a big part depend on how tech savvy you are. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article already, even the template you choose, how you compress your images, and how you display your content
And as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the template you choose, how you compress your images, and how you decide to display your content are all factors that determine your PageSpeed.
Once again, it is my goal to prove that even with a free account you can rank on page one of Google, and that a minimalist targeted approach can very well beat splashing out with “top-notch” solutions 😉
With love, ~Debby
Notes: How to rank on Google (1). Top Google made tools helping SEO efforts (2). Generatepress Review: Is is the fastest loading template (3)? The 10 most on-page SEO issues (4). Blogging sustainability (5).